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7G – Upper School Science – Cell Cycle and Cancer

During Cell Cycle and Cancer (Core Experience Learning Lab), students will spend time building and analyzing models of the cell cycle which will allow them to discover how cells are regulated and why regulation of cells is important for normal tissue function. Students will further discover that the loss of regulation of the cell cycle can lead to the development of a tumor and cancer. Comparing slides of healthy and cancerous tissues (breast, lung, skin) will help students visualize the organized nature of healthy cells versus the disorganized nature of cancer cells and draw conclusions about the cycle within those cells.

8G – Upper School Science – Watersheds

During this Core Experience Learning Lab, students will perform experiments to model the structure and function of watersheds. They will look at the effects of water velocity on discharge, sedimentation, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen content in watersheds. They also will explore the effects of salinity and water temperature on the dissolved oxygen content of water.

6G – Upper School Science – Space

By investigating the position of the Earth and Sun and the tilt of the Earth, students will begin to conclude that the light and heat energy that reach Earth are directly related to the angle at which sunlight reaches Earth. They will also understand that a geographical region on Earth experiences night and day when that area is turned away from or toward the Sun, respectively.

Students will model the relationship between the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Through analysis of they model, they will realize that the position of the Moon in relation to the Earth and Sun causes us to view the Moon in different phases.

Throughout models and simulations, students will also find that the orbit of the planets around the Sun is affected by two factors, the forward motion of the planets and the gravitational pull of the Sun. Likewise, the orbit of the Moon around Earth is affected by the forward motion of the Moon and gravitational pull of Earth.

From these models and experiments, students will begin discover that many of the occurrences we observe in outer space come as a result of the motion of the planets, Sun, and moons, as well as from the forces that govern motion.

7G – Upper School Science – Cell Analogy Project

Cells need to carry on the same basic functions as we do to sustain life; the difference is cells do this with much smaller parts. These smaller structures that allow the cell to function are called organelles -“tiny organs.”

To give seventh students a jump start on understanding organelles and their functions (taught in ninth grade biology), they recently completed a cell analogy project. Their assignment was to relate 14 different cell organelles and coordinating functions to an everyday situation or object. The twist was that they couldn’t use any analogies already posted on the internet; theirs had to be original. Students conjured projects around Big Ben, the Roman Colosseum, a tree house, a pond, a hamster cage, an Amazon village, an Egyptian pyramid, an oil rig, and so many other incredible, creative platforms.

7G – Upper School Science – Genes and Proteins

During this Core Experience Learning Lab (CELL), students will perform experiments to model the process of information transfer from DNA to RNA to protein. Students will then model mutations and the resulting changes in RNA and proteins and examine the relationship between protein structure and function. Finally, students will investigate mitosis to demonstrate how a change in one cell’s DNA could effect the entire organism.

8G – Upper School Science – Photosynthesis

During this Core Experience Learning Lab (CELL) students will perform several experiments centered around the following questions:

– Which pigments are present in spinach leaves?
– How do light and photosynthesis affect carbon dioxide levels?
– How do light and photosynthesis affect oxygen levels?
– In what parts of the plant does photosynthesis occur?
– Which pigment is required for photosynthesis?

6G – Upper School Science – Debate

After gathering enough ideas to volley, students were divided into teams to debate the essential question, “Which has a greater influence on global warming, man or nature?”. Teams intact, our lab turned into a court of law, complete with a panel of judges. With a flip of the coin, teams began to banter back and forth. The first team presented a powerful opening statement which was countered with an equally powerful response from the opposition.

From here, deep thought and a lively discussion ensued. Watching students consider alternatives, weigh evidence, support their ideas, and justify their answers was rewarding, but the icing on the cake presented itself as meaningful connections to prior learning and the world beyond our lab walls became increasingly evident. These connections typically continue months later as students’ natural curiosity (and competitive nature) loops them back to the ideas shared during the debate. This type of sustained inquiry represents one of the main goals of essential questions.

7G – Upper School Science – Cellular Organization

The focus of this Core Experience Learning Lab is an investigation into the organization that exists within organs, tissues, and cells of animals and plants and into the functions that can be inferred from this organization. Beginning at the organism level, students soon see that an organism can be broken into a series of systems, into organs which comprise this systems, into tissues which comprise organs and then into cells which comprise tissues. Further division is apparent when cells are examined, and students see that each cell has separate components called organelles. This particular organization of structures within biological systems is often referred to as hierarchical organization. Images from x-rays, CT and MRI scans provide students with a window through which to begin viewing this hierarchical organization. Further lab studies are done via oil immersion light microscopes and tissue samples from various organisms.

7G – Upper School Science – Paper Chair Engineering

The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) sets industry standards for commercial-grade furniture. The standards are intended to provide manufacturers and users with a common basis for evaluation safety, durability, and the structural integrity of specified furniture.

The standards define specific tests, laboratory equipment to be used, formulas to determine weight or height to use in each test, the conditions of testing, and the acceptance levels to be used in evaluating these products.

Students in seventh grade were introduced to BIFMA as well as some basic engineering terms and ideas prior to beginning formal construction of their chairs. Following a set list of objectives/requirements, students used only newspaper and making tape to form chairs to hold the average weight of a seventh grader – 95 pounds!

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